The leader of a doomsday cult was appointed in a message delivered to his “prayer warrior” father by Jesus, it has been claimed.
‘Rocco Leo, pastor of the controversial Agape Ministries, and his brother Rino, were said to be “called” together about 15 years ago as their father’s religious dedication paid off.
Former stonemason Rino described his late father, Biagio or Billy, as a “prayer warrior” who devoted much of his time to his own prayer after he became unhappy with the church he was then in.
“Seventeen years later, Jesus appeared to him and he told him that he has a message for him, that the prayer is like a monument before him and `I (Jesus) came to give you the good news’,” Rino said.
“So my father asked him, `What is it? What do you want to tell me?’ He said `I’ve appointed two of your children, Rocco and Rino’.
“This is what my father said. Then he (Jesus) said they will be like Moses and Aaron, his brother. Miracles, signs and wonders will follow them anywhere they go – so that’s what Jesus said.”
According to Rino, 58, visions of Jesus regularly returned to his father to deliver messages and one of them was to find a place to worship.
Former members have claimed that, although the Oakden church was initially a “beautiful, perfect” place, as years passed, right-wing conspiracy theory videos started being shown and strict rules were introduced.
They also said gates at the church were unlocked only for a set period – about half an hour – ahead of services and anyone who missed their opening could not attend.
One former follower described churchgoers as “scared, paralysed” and said some people left the congregation before Rocco apparently closed the church on January 3.
He is thought to be in Fiji or Vanuatu, where it has been claimed he wanted to take his congregation.
Rino said he did not know where his brother was but, if he could speak to him, he would ask him to return.
“I will say to him, `Come back home, we miss you, we love you’,” he said. As further details emerged about the “charismatic” leader, it was revealed Rocco Leo had left rent debts of $45,000 on a former city cafe.